Many colleges are now questioning the pervasive assumption that developmental students are best served by separate, remedial courses prior to enrolling in a college-level course.
In California, Moorpark College has allowed students to self-place into college English for more than a decade. Self-placement in Math has also been used at Diablo Valley College and American River College.
Other versions of mainstreaming qualify students for enrollment in a regular college-level course through mechanisms other than the placement exam, such as recognition of high school coursework. Fresno City College, for example, reviews students’ high school transcripts and allows those who have passed Algebra II to enroll directly in Statistics. In San Diego’s Grossmont-Cuyamaca district, students who had passed high school courses aligned with the college curriculum were allowed to enroll in the college English course regardless of their placement score. Brad Phillips described the program in an online article for Good Education: “Like many of their fellow freshmen nationally, a whopping 95 percent of high school graduates from West Hills [High School] who received As and Bs in their senior English courses did not ‘pass’ the placement test. Yet when allowed to enroll in college-level courses instead of remedial classes, 86 percent successfully completed college-level English, lost no time in their progress, and stayed on course toward earning a degree.”
And the Community College of Baltimore County has had tremendous results with its Accelerated Learning Project (ALP), in which upper-level developmental students enroll directly into college English, with an additional support course provided by the same instructor. An evaluation by the Community College Research Center shows that student completion of College English has increased significantly. The program has been scaled up to become the primary developmental English pathway at the college, and more than 30 colleges nationwide are piloting their own versions of ALP.